Mayor Swearengin, Business, Government Leaders Tout Economic Development Potential of PG&E Rate Proposal

FRESNO – Joined by local business and government leaders from Fresno, Kings and Madera counties, Mayor Ashley Swearengin today said a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) proposal for an enhanced economic development rate would provide significant benefits for the region.

“This proposed rate provides a real opportunity for Fresno and our entire region to see new jobs, more economic activity, more tax revenue and more skills in the local market,” Mayor Swearengin said. “For Fresno, the rate would be a powerful incentive. It can help us attract a range of businesses, especially those that are directly related to the agriculture food chain, and it can also help businesses already here expand.”

PG&E earlier this month asked state regulators for the right to offer a competitive electric rate to attract employers to California and convince other employers already in the state to maintain or expand their operations rather than leave. To be eligible for the rate, existing businesses need to be actively pursuing out-of-state locations or would otherwise close.

For counties in PG&E’s service area with unemployment rates at least 25 percent higher than the state average, the proposed economic development rate would create a significant rate reduction. Eligible businesses would receive 35 percent off electric rates for five years.

To be eligible, a business would need to be a new enterprise locating in California for the first time or one that will expand existing facilities, or stay in California. The rate is intended for large companies – those with power loads of at least 200 kilowatts – and there are other eligibility conditions that will apply. (The proposal also provides a lower rate reduction on similar conditions in the remaining parts of the utility's service area.)

The enhanced economic development rate would benefit 22 counties in PG&E's service territory, including all of the San Joaquin Valley counties that are served by the utility.

Leaders from throughout the region also have offered their support for the proposal.

Al Smith, president and CEO, Greater Fresno Area Chamber of Commerce: "As the business community continues to explore ways of lifting this soft economy and adding jobs, incentives like this help accelerate the time in which vitality is back, people are employed and our quality of life is normalized.”

Jay Salyer, Kings Economic Development Corporation: “One of the most important costs in evaluating sites for location is the cost of power. Right now, California and the Valley are at a great disadvantage. The enhanced economic development rate should even the playing field, and the 35 percent rate reduction for counties within the San Joaquin Valley is potentially a game-changer. A reasonable cost of power gives our communities the chance to compete.”

Mendota Mayor Robert Silva: “It’s another tool that we have to bring in businesses to our area. It’s quite an incentive, and that’s what we need to spur jobs and spur growth.”

Madera Mayor Brett Frazier: “It is essential in our economically challenged area to seek out and find new ways to foster economic development, create jobs, and assist new and existing businesses to thrive. I wholeheartedly support the enhanced economic development rate and believe it will be absolutely essential to our future growth.”

Debbie Poochigian, chair, Fresno County Board of Supervisors: “Fresno County understands the importance of lowering the cost of doing business in our County in order to spur job creation. We are in support of the establishment of an ‘enhanced economic development utility rate’ for our area.”

Ed Dunkel, chair, Fresno County Economic Development Corporation board of directors: “We simply have not had an effective tool that would make this region more competitive to others across the country in regard to power costs. A 35% reduced headline rate for electricity is a powerful incentive - one we believe will significantly even the playing field to attract manufacturing, food processing, and other companies who are large energy users.”

Here is a list of government entities and organizations that have provided formal letters of support to the California Public Utilities Commission for the PG&E proposal:
City of Fresno
City of Sanger
City of Stockton
City of Reedley
City of Fowler
City of Lemoore
City of Madera
City of Mendota
City of Coalinga
City of Clovis
County of Fresno
County of Kings
County of San Joaquin
County of Madera
California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley
Fresno County Economic Development Corporation
Fresno Chamber of Commerce
California League of Food Processors

A question-and-answer document further explaining the rate and the process for approval is attached.

The Enhanced Economic Development Utility Rate Q&A
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